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Pig outlook: Lean hog futures bulls take technical control

February lean hog futures this week have rallied to near the recent highs, including the contract high of $93.30. Bulls have the firm near-term technical advantage. However, weakness in the cash hog market may limit the upside in futures. The latest CME lean hog index is quoted down 13 cents to $78.60 (as of Dec. 23). That is the lowest in almost a year. The five-day national direct rolling average cash hog price today was quoted at $78.30. 

Hog market bulls are hoping a seasonal bottom in cash prices is close at hand, evidenced by the big gains in hog futures on Tuesday. Rising corn and soybean meal futures prices this week also likely limited buying interest in hog futures. USDA’s bullish quarterly Hogs & Pigs report last Friday should limit the downside in the hog market in the near term. The agency estimated the Dec. 1 hog herd at 73.119 million head, down 1.327 million head (1.8%) from year-ago and 210,000 head under pre-report estimates. Hog inventories fell 2.0% to 68.321 million head and the breeding herd at 6.154 million head was 0.5% above last year.

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